Friday 14 December 2018

Moore hoping Magic Wand can weave Epsom Oaks spell

Jockey Ryan Moore. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA
Jockey Ryan Moore. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA

Thomas Kelly

Magical was the most notable absentee from the list of nine declarations for the tomorrow's Investec Oaks at Epsom but Aidan O'Brien still has a formidable team of five to take on hot favourite Wild Illusion.

The highly-fancied Ballydoyle filly suffered a setback on Tuesday and a decision was left until the last minute. She was found to have a bit of filling on the inside of a joint and it does not appear to have cleared up in time.

Magical, winner of the Group Two Debutante Stakes as a two-year-old, had been second favourite in the ante-post betting behind the Charlie Appleby-trained Wild Illusion.

However, O'Brien has five chances as he seeks to win the Oaks for a seventh time. His team is headed by Magic Wand and Forever Together, which were first and second respectively in the Cheshire Oaks at Chester. Ryan Moore has decided to partner the former - whom he rode to victory on the Roodeye - while Donnacha O'Brien will take the reins on the latter.

Bye Bye Baby, Flattering and I Can Fly complete the O'Brien team.

The home defence is led by the 1,000 Guineas fourth Wild Illusion, with Musidora scorer Give And Take, Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Perfect Clarity and Ejtyah completing the set.

As for the Derby countdown to Saturday, Dermot Weld reports Hazapour to be primed for the Epsom test after Frankie Dettori flew over to the Curragh on Tuesday to partner his Derby mount.

Winner of the Derrinstown Derby Trial, traditionally a good pointer towards the Epsom Classic, the son of Shamardal has been well backed in recent days.

Hazapour is related to Harzand, Weld's first winner of the blue riband two years ago. "Hazapour is in great form. Frankie Dettori came and rode him and I'm glad to say he was very pleased with him," said the Rosewell House maestro..

"It wasn't that we did anything magical with him, we didn't ask him to do anything spectacular. He's an idle horse, a lazy colt, but Frankie was satisfied with him and I was very satisfied with him."

Worryingly for supporters of favourite Saxon Warrior, the going is currently soft after the course was saturated with 21 millimetres of rain on Tuesday.

However, with dry weather forecast, the going could be good to soft come Saturday. Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper revealed it was the amount of rain that had been a surprise.

He said: "It's the volumes you might get that is the uncertainty. Rain started 10.30 in the morning yesterday when we had about four or five millimetres. By the end of the night we had 21mm in the day as a whole."

O'Brien has readily admitted he would prefer good ground for the English 2,000 Guineas winner and his stablemates. "All six we have in the Derby - Saxon Warrior, Delano Roosevelt, Kew Gardens, Nelson, The Pentagon and Zabriskie - are in the mix. We'll see what happens with the weather overnight and decide in the morning how many of them will run," he said yesterday.

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport